The State of Games in Australia: A Cautionary Tale?

When people think of the Australian gaming industry, many think of a country who does not really HAVE an industry, other than the consuming of games. For years, Australia has been considered stagnant in the production of video games, with consumers having to depend on games from Japan and America. However, the Australian gaming industry has been re-emerging in a format that was non-existent when the industry found itself in trouble 10 or so years ago;the mobile game.

In the 90’s and early 2000’s, Australia was the place that many publishers relied on to create their games, due to the weak Australian dollar reducing their costs, as well as the high level of technical skill of Australian workers in the industry (McCrea, 2013, p. 204). Unfortunately, this model led to workers being unpaid, leading to talent moving overseas where they would get more opportunities and more pay for their expertise. Also, by producing games for other people, Australian companies often did not have copyright over the games they made, so had difficulty generating ongoing income. The combination of a rise in console game development costs, the strengthening Australian dollar in the face of the financial crisis ruining other countries, as well as a lack of tax incentives from the government for maintain a game development company,  led to game creation becoming almost non-existent here until recently (McCrea, 2013, p. 204).

Shifts in gaming culture and technology has allowed Australian companies, such as Halfbrick Studios (creators of Fruit Ninja), to create successful games for mobile devices. The creation of games for mobile  devices seems to have more incentive than other platforms. This is due to less technology for developers to ‘wrap their heads around’, less staff required to make a game,  as well as the idea that a less complicated, but well designed game can be massively popular on the Apple App Store (for example).

This article was in relation to video games, but can provide some insight into the creation of any game (board, card or video). I have taken it to be a cautionary tale, a warning to be cautious in relation to who you work with/for, and to try to ensure that you are paid the amount you deserve for you labour. The Australian games industry was able to re-emerge with independent gaming companies who have full control over their staff and products.

So, in the creation of my own card game, I would be ‘going alone’ and relying on the freedoms of independent game design to see my game to its completion. I would have full control over artistic vision, marketing and copyright.  Where I would need help/labour, in terms of art creation, etc, I would rely independent/freelance artists I find online and pay on a ‘per card’ basis. I would also have to make sure that I don’t underpay them, because that does not help the industry either, and provides them no incentive to stay in the industry! We should really be promoting an industry where we help each other, or at least don’t take advantage of others for our own selfish needs.

References:

McCrea, C 2013, ‘Australian Video Games: The Collapse and Reconstruction of an Industry’, from Gaming Globally, pp. 203-207

2 thoughts on “The State of Games in Australia: A Cautionary Tale?

  1. Interesting focus in your blog! I didn’t actually realise this was the case within Australian gaming industries, however the track record of Australia in the digital arena doesn’t exactly surprise me. The idea that people are moving to gain more recognition is quite sad! Your game design looks promising and the fact you’ve been trying to incorporate your own creations and basically going solo to produce it is commendable. To further encourage and assist your aspirations I found this website (http://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/articles/how-to-learn-board-game-design-and-development–gamedev-11607) that basically has a breakdown of the game design element in producing your own. It starts from the very starts and has pointers along the way that could possibly help you out or give you inspiration when its time for each checkpoint! I also found this article (http://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/02/the-future-of-the-australian-games-industry-is-being-discussed-today/) that looks at the discussion around Video game industries in Australia. It’s an interesting perspective whereby the committee released a survey to be completed and they address some of the issues that came up. One of them was the lack of diversity in gender within the industry. Something you could explore and promote as a female developer your becoming in this subject! Goodluck with it all!

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